As businesses continue to navigate the challenges of running a business through a pandemic, Mercado on Fifth is launching its fifth round of micro-grants to help boost minority businesses in the Illinois Quad Cities.
Eligible minority-owned businesses and aspiring minority entrepreneurs may apply for a grant of up to $1,000. Grants can be used for equipment-related purchases, start-up costs, repairs to existing infrastructure, technology upgrades or personal protective equipment.
To qualify, applicants must have had at least one appointment with the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Western Illinois University – Quad Cities (WIU) or be an existing SBDC client.
Sign up on the SBDC’s website to become a client. Appointments in English and Spanish are also available by calling the SBDC at (309) 762-3999, ext. 62243.
“Our local businesses need as much support as they can get,” said Anamaria Rocha, Mercado’s executive director. “We hope that businesses will be excited to see the Minority Business Grant Program returning for its fifth year to help with providing some financial assistance.”
Since 2018, Mercado and the SBDC at WIU-QC have awarded more than $64,000 in minority business equipment grants. Mercado vendors and other entrepreneurs have used grants to purchase a wide range of materials, including a video camera, beauty salon supplies, an industrial sewing machine and kitchen supplies.
Equipment grant applications now are being accepted online in English and Spanish. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25.
In addition to the micro-grant program, Mercado and its partners offer free small business workshops (in Spanish and English). The non-profit is best known for its outdoor markets it hosts every Friday during the summer on Moline’s 5th Avenue.
For more information, visit MercadoOnFifth.org.